CURRENT EXHIBITION: CLOSED TEMPORARILY

THE POSTHUMOUS LANDSCAPE: Jewish Historical Sites in Poland and Western Ukraine

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CLOSED DURING COVID-19 SHUTDOWN. At DARCHEI NOAM CONGREGATION, 864 Sheppard Avenue West, Toronto. Open for viewing during the week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and during synagogue services on Saturday morning and holidays. (Please call synagogue office at 416-638-4783 to confirm.)

The landscapes of Poland and western Ukraine offer substantial rewards to the Jewish traveller seeking a connection with what existed before the great catastrophe of the Hitler years. Since the late 1970s and especially since the fall of Communism, Jews of the post-war generations in North America and Israel have been “returning” to Eastern Europe in ever-increasing numbers. For most the quest is to set foot in the ancestral home, to visit family burial sites if they exist, and to uncover family records in provincial archives.

My interest in what remains of Jewish life in Eastern Europe as a photographic subject was sparked by several trips to Poland to make documentary films concerning the Holocaust. On all those occasions I was unexpectedly surprised and deeply moved by both the quality and quantity of Jewish material culture—remnants of Jewish life—that I saw wherever I went. Although the great Jewish communities of Eastern Europe were destroyed by the Nazis, and the survivors persecuted and cast out in the Soviet era, evidence of centuries of Jewish life remains in abundance almost everywhere.

(This exhibition at Darchei Noam Congregation in Toronto was previously at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. It brings together a selection of my photos from previous exhibitions on Jewish historical sites in Poland and western Ukraine.)